Political News

The questions that may be answered during 'Bridgegate' trial

Posted September 16

— From Watergate to Deflategate, scandals involving prominent public figures invariably revolve around the same questions: What did they know, and when did they know it?

As two former allies of Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie prepare to go on trial Monday for closing access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September 2013, allegedly in an act of political revenge, it is Christie's version of events that has fueled the most speculation.

What the governor knew and when he knew it are just two of many questions still being asked after three years, three separate investigations and the release of thousands of pages of private texts and emails.

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WHEN DID CHRISTIE LEARN THE LANE CLOSURES HAD BEEN ORDERED BY SUBORDINATES?

Christie said in December 2013 no one in his office was involved. A month later, he said he was "heartbroken" to learn deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly, one of two defendants on trial next week, lied to him. Yet a former Christie staffer — who is expected to testify at the trial — texted a colleague during that December news conference that the governor "flat out lied," according to a court filing last month. Christie denies he lied.

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WHO ARE THE UNINDICTED CO-CONSPIRATORS, HOW HIGH-RANKING WERE THEY AND HOW DEEPLY WERE THEY INVOLVED?

Media organizations sued to get the list but were denied by a federal appeals court after an unidentified person on the list filed a motion to stop its release. The list itself likely won't be introduced at trial, but defense attorneys are expected to use the names on it to try to show the alleged scheme extended far beyond Kelly and Bill Baroni, a former executive of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The U.S. attorney's office has said the unindicted co-conspirators either were cooperating with the investigation or were otherwise not charged because there wasn't believed to be enough evidence to convict them. Christie has said it's highly doubtful he's on the list.

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WHAT WILL DAVID WILDSTEIN'S TESTIMONY REVEAL?

The former political blogger and director of interstate capital projects at the Port Authority pleaded guilty in May 2015 and told a judge the scheme was aimed at punishing Democratic Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who hadn't endorsed Christie's re-election. Wildstein hasn't spoken publicly since the scandal broke, but his attorney, Alan Zegas, has said "evidence exists to establish" Christie knew of the lane closures while they were occurring. Zegas has offered no further details.

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WAS BARONI ACTING ON ANYONE'S ORDERS WHEN HE TOLD A LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE THE LANE CLOSURES WERE PART OF A TRAFFIC STUDY?

Jurors likely will watch the video of Baroni's appearance in which he engaged in frequently testy exchanges with lawmakers, some of whom he had sparred with previously when he was a state senator.

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WHAT'S ON CHRISTIE'S PHONE?

Defense attorneys have subpoenaed the cellphone of Christie and other high-ranking staffers at the time of the lane closures and their aftermath. They have accused the U.S. attorney's office of not aggressively pursuing since-deleted text messages between the governor and a subordinate sent during Baroni's legislative testimony.

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